Pros: As a revision to prior iCube, this small (4” cubed) speaker system includes an iPod charging dock and separate drivers for left and right channel audio. Includes bass and treble controls, a glowing power light, and audio cables to connect the cube to external/non-dockable devices. Female Dock Connector port and line-out let you use system as a standard iPod dock for computer synchronization and audio output. Runs off of wall power.
Cons: Sound quality is good overall for the price, though neither volume nor bass is truly powerful.
In addition to boasting physical compatibility with the iPod nano and 5G, this sequel to last year’s iCube speaker and docking station for iPod promises superior audio quality and simultaneous iPod charging in the same sized package. The iCube II also comes in glossy black to compliment popular black iPods, and includes audio cables to ensure its compatibility with older iPod models.
Last November, we reviewed Boynq’s original iCube (iLounge rating: B-), a 4” cube that housed left- and right-channel speakers and an iPod dock. Somewhat sloppy in internal execution despite its clean, simple exterior, the iCube had a few glaring faults that seemed easy enough to address, and now Boynq has done so in iCube II ($69), which isn’t so much a sequel as an enhanced revision. Except as noted below, we’ll point you to our earlier review for all the details.
The biggest differences between iCube and iCube II are four in number: first, and most obviously, the iCube II comes in glossy black and metallic silver rather than its predecessor’s white and metallic silver, a change that compliments popular black iPods. Second, though the last model included four dock adapters and audio cables that could be used with any iPod, the new unit includes the cables and six adapters, two specifically for use with the iPod nano and 5G. Between the various inserts, you’ll have no problem docking any iPod from 3G to 5G, mini or nano; the only conceivable issue here is that the included cables remain white, but then, any old iPods that require these cables will be white, too, so it’s not a huge issue.
Third, while the iCube was unable to charge a docked iPod – a surprising omission, given that the iCube required a connection to wall power – the new version lets you charge and listen to your iPod at the same time. Boynq has European and U.S.-certified versions of iCube, which ship with different wall power supplies, but are otherwise the same internally, switching between 100-240V. On a related note, no change has been made to the unit’s portability; though it’s small, there’s still no battery compartment for use on the road. Fourth and finally, Boynq has made a couple of small audio tweaks to iCube – now, the left and right speakers aren’t reversed, which is better, and it sounds like there’s been a tiny boost of the iCube II’s midrange, which though barely discernible did not improve the audio from our standpoint.
Otherwise, changes to the iCube’s design are very small: the orange ring of light around the unit’s central volume dial seems a little brighter than before, while the glowing orange Boynq logo underneath it is less visible, both possibly attributable to the device’s black plastic enclosure. As before, there are still four ports on the back, one for power, one for line in, one for line out, and one for connection to Apple’s Dock Connector-to-computer cables, and they all work as expected.
Though small, the changes from iCube to iCube II unquestionably improve what you get for the same price as before, and thereby render the new version recommendable. While you shouldn’t expect this to be a superstar audio performer – as before, this isn’t a bass or volume machine, and overall is a little better on sound than the average small clock radio – iCube II’s low price and compact size will endear it to budget- and space-conscious users. With a MSRP of $69, expect to see it at street prices of $59 and below.
Company and Price
Model: iCube II
Compatible: iPod 3G, 4G/color/photo, 5G, mini, nano, 1G/2G*, shuffle*